Willow Tree Cuff Bracelet by Taylor Twigg. $150.
If you want a professional looking website to show off your art (and trust me, you do), you don’t have to hire a web developer. In fact, you can usually make an impressive website just by knowing these 5 key principles. I’ll call them Necessities, even.
1. Ease of Navigation
If it’s difficult or confusing for people to get around your site, they’ll leave. People want to get the information they want quickly. So make sure you have these pages very visible in a tab format on your homepage: home, about, contact, art, and blog if you have one. You can name them differently and put them in a different order. But be careful. If your customer isn’t used to seeing “get in touch with me”, they might not think to click that when they’re looking for your email. And if your homepage link is on the right, no one is going to know how to get back to your homepage because they can’t find the button that’s always on the far left. If you’re not sure the best way to set up your pages, go look at someone else’s site who gets a lot of traffic and sales. Or just look at mine! 🙂
You should also be sure that any subpages are linked from relevant main pages. So if you sell both paintings and illustrations, your art page should clearly link to both the page for paintings and the one for illustrations. Seems simple, but it’s these sorts of things that we all forget when we’re trying to get our site up and running.
We all know it’s important to brand our business. But did you know branding is more than a logo? Your brand should incorporate a small set of colors and legible fonts – and your entire website should be done with this branding. Can you honestly say you know what font you’ve used for the bulk of your site’s text?
3. Tasteful Advertising, if any
Stop using your website to make money from links. You are running a professional business. The fastest way to look unprofessional is by having lots of Google ads on your sidebar (or anywhere). If you must use ads (or if they’re actually working for you!), make them tasteful. Don’t let them get in the way of *your* content. Remember, your website is above all a resource for getting new customers for yourself, not for other businesses.
Also remember that most people don’t make anything from Google ads and other impersonal advertising. People don’t usually click on the ads; when they do, the click doesn’t give you much money; and you don’t get a check until you’ve made $100, which takes forever!
Write like a human.
Really, I could just leave it at that. But I’ll give you a little more to go on just in case. People respond to other people – to humans. If your text is cold and business-like, people aren’t going to stick around. They want to know there’s a person behind your brand. This applies to pictures, too. Your about page should have a picture of you. Yes, I know that’s stressful for some of you. But go outside and have a friend take a simple picture of you with your cell or digital camera. Stand in front of a neutral wall. Smile. Breathe. People just want to know *you*, not someone you wish you were.
I saved a surprising one for last. Most people don’t talk about this, but it’s often one of the first things that makes people click the X to leave your site, especially people looking to buy art. Have you ever seen a website where you immediately feel like it’s cluttered and overwhelming? That business is losing customers every day because visitors don’t feel at ease on their website. You want people to immediately feel a pleasant emotion of some sort when they hit your site. So cut down on all the text on your homepage, make your photos bigger, and leave lots and lots of space in between everything. Use that artist’s eye to space out boxes, pictures, and text. If you’re unsure, ask a friend.
– fix your navigation
– make a list of the fonts and colors your brand uses and pair them down, implement your new branding choices
– get rid of your advertising or make it blend better with your site
– take a picture of yourself and put it on your site
– rewrite your about text and other large blocks of text like an artist’s statement
– draw a picture of how your site would look at its best, with lots of spacing. put a date in your calendar for when you’ll start tackling those changes.